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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Some yuks from Trenton

State Sen. Sharpe James, D-Essex, should do stand-up comedy. His defense of the Senate bill to ban dual officeholding by public officials Monday was that funny. Or sad. Here we have James, who served as mayor of Newark and also in the Legislature from 1999 through last year, holding himself out as the model for good-government reform.

"I never wanted to be a dual officeholder,'' James said. If not, why did he hold both posts - at the salary, pensions and power they brought - for seven years? "I voluntarily quit one to lead by example,'' he added. As memory serves, he abandoned his mayoral re-election bid when it became clear he was going to lose. If that was voluntary, oh well.

James didn't mention that he's expected to face a challenge from Newark Councilman Luis Quintana in his bid for re-election. Quintana, if elected, would have to choose only one post under the Senate version of the bill, which would be effective immediately, but could hold onto his local position under the Assembly version that would delay the ban until February and grandfather any dual officeholders. Funny how James neglected that self-serving distinction.

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